Planning to Avoid Probate
What is the probate process and how can I avoid it?
To the extent you own assets and use a Will to leave your estate to your loved ones, all of those assets will pass through probate. Probate is a document intensive process where a petition must be filed with the court, the personal representative you appointed must be qualified, and there may be a requirement for an expensive and an accounting may be required. This process is costly, time consuming and not private (open to the public). The probate court is in control of the process until all claims have been resolved and all property distributed. If you have a family, you want to be sure that they have immediate access to cash to pay for living expenses while your estate is being administered. It is not unusual for assets to be frozen for weeks or even months during the administration of the estate. Your spouse may be forced to apply to the probate court for cash needed to pay current living expenses. You can imagine how stressful this process can be for those who are already grieving.
With proper planning, perhaps by utilizing a Revocable Living Trust, your assets can pass to your loved ones without undergoing probate in a quick, inexpensive and private manner. Trusts are excellent tools for asset management and can protect the identity of your ultimate beneficiaries. A Revocable Living Trust can also avoid probate on real estate that you own in other states.
Planning to Minimize Estate Tax Liability at Death
Planning for Disability
Planning for Minor Children
Planning for Special Needs Individuals